In Slime Rancher, you assume the role of Beatrix LeBeau, the titular rancher of slime on a planet in the farthest reaches of space. She left earth to make her own way, and it’s up to you explore the planet, corral a cutesy array of slime species with a vacuum gun, and keep them fed until they poop out valuable gems that you can exchange for money. Don’t let their smiling faces fool you. They can grow and they can kill. But keep them in check, get into tried and tested routine, and you’ll be swimming in butt gems in no time. Probably. I think. That didn’t happen for me. My slime ranch was short-lived and quite the horror show.
Here’s how things went my first time on the ranch…
I’m dropped into my home base, where a corral already stands. It’s a square pen with sci-fi forcefield fences. A lone slime rolls into sight. It’s a little pink bugger, probably the size of a watermelon, and they’re hopping around, doing slime things. Every single one is wearing a goofy grin. I envy the little one’s cheerful nihilism, so I suck it up with my vacuum gun and shoot it through my magic fence. Still smiling.
There’s a carrot patch nearby, a few of which I suck up and shoot at my slime. Pinky swallows one whole, distends to twice its size, and poops out a shiny gem. I start to think about capitalism. And then I stop thinking about capitalism and suck up the poop gem. A bit of onscreen text tells me to shoot the poop gem into a console at the far end of my farm. There’s a screen here showing all sorts of poop gems—gaseous green poop, glowing magma poop, a translucent poop gem with a faint light in the center. Next to each image is the poop gem exchange rate, and while I’m not sure how the value of a slime poop gem fluctuates, the indication is that I can play the market and get rich. With enough money, I can buy additions to my farm in the form of corrals, gardens, ponds, incinerators, upgrades for my vacuum, and more.
Fueled by my newfound entrepreneurial space greed, I venture out beyond the edges of my farm into the wilds. This planet is mostly desert and where I can wander is bordered by video game mesa walls and rickety bridges over small inlets from a slime sea. It’s all quite pretty and in line with the cartoony, vaguely threatening look, if a bit sparse in spots.
There’s slime everywhere. A dozen in a writhing pile near the wall over here, a dozen trying to reach the fruit in a tree over there, and a dozen more pop out of the ground as I walk over. Unnerved, I vacuum up twenty of them into one of my gun’s four storage capsules. There’s all kinds of food out here: red mango-esque spheres, square strawberries, carrots for days, and some wild chickens. I gather up as much as possible and return to my ranch. On the way back, a few spiked blue slimes roll my way and take off a good chunk of health. So the slimes want me dead. Comforting! I suck them up and give them their own cage. Blues are strict vegetarians, but good god! Their poop is twice the value of my pinks! Have all the carrots you like, my friends!
I dump all of my pink slimes into the same corral. They’re still rolling around, smiling, doing slime things. Ignorance is bliss, and all that. After gathering enough of their beautiful crystalline droppings, I exchange them for two gardens and a chicken coop, which I build directly next to their enclosure. This is was the beginning of the end.
Hell, that’s some determination. My chickens are screwed, but I have to leave to find more food for my slimes. The farms aren’t pumping out fruit and veggies quick enough, it seems. So I take off into the wilds in search of anything I can find to satiate my pink problem. I gather up a ton of carrots and some fruit, then sprint back as quickly as possible. This is what I came back to.
Turns out, if a slime eats another slime’s poop that is “unlike its own” (according to the Slimepedia), then they’ll evolve into a Tarr, which spreads like a virus, hunting and tainting all slime, eating chickens, poisoning crops, and breaking hearts (mine). My farm was gone and the Tarr were hunting me down. But such is the way of slime ranching. It’s hard out here in the edges of known space. Just the way we like it.
Slime Rancher seems like a promising resource management game with a cheeky attitude that’s ever-so-slightly bent towards chaos. I started another game using what I learned about slime behaviors, ranch setup, and the poop economy to blaze almost directly to where I left off in my last failed game. Failure rolls in tandem with understanding, wearing the slime’s same goofy smile—intent on breaking you down, but always ready to welcome you back.
This is the type of game where information slowly unravels through experimentation and curiosity. You can play it safe and have a homogeneous pink slime farm forever, or you can get riskier and keep the blue slime pen right next door and pray they don’t get out for a mutual poop feast. I’m having a good time with Slime Rancher, bouncing regularly between calming routine and chaos control. I’m extremely curious to see what kind of systems (and slimes) are in place when it’s finished.
My farm is doing OK now. I saved up enough money to buy an underground annex where I can raise both nocturnal slimes and all sorts of new hell. I can’t wait to see what goes wrong next.
Slime Rancher is in pre-alpha right now and expected out sometime this year. Get more info and cutesy slime screens on the official site.